The story of Louse Mallard, who dies of a heart condition from the surprise showing up of her presumed dead husband suggests a succesful conspiracy to cover up major issues in their marriage. The fact that Louise died concealing the abusive nature of her husband reveals the dreadful reality of women surviving in abusive relationships and opt to conceal the truth. This paper seeks to analyze Allen Stein's Women and Autonomy in Kate Chopin's short Fiction and Joseph Rossenblum's The story of an hour.
Allen supports Kate Chopin efforts in revealing the reality of difficulties that women encounter in the marriage institutions that affect them completely marring their dreams and contribution to the society. He observes Choplins success in characterizing Mrs. Louise Mallard in her effort to portray the injustice and unfairness in marriage. According to him, Choplin portrays the Marriage institution as a situation where women loose their freedom, free will, power and ultimately their personal identities. Her story is set in Louise marital home that symbolizes a prison. Choplin relates Mrs. Mallard as a hostage confined and domesticated without rights (Rosenblum, 3910). In The story on an hour, Joseph Rosenblum notes that Chopin's perspective on the role of women in a male-dominated society was oppressive and limited. The only solution, he asserts, was death (Rossenblum, 3909).
As Mrs. Mallard gazes through her window thinking about the death of her husband, she gets a new perspective and hope with her husbands absence( Chopin, 786). According to Rossenblum, it is when Louise is alone upstairs that she realizes the relief her husband's death has brought to her. Alone in the room, she gets hope to live free from dominance and for a long time control her life.
The open window symbolizes a vision of freedom into the vast unknown (Rosenblum 3909). This vision represents Mrs. Mallard's new insight that she gains with her release from the prison she has learned to live in. Mrs. Louise Mallard rapidly converts from a powerless inferior woman to a joyful hopeful person. She is no longer Mrs. Mallard but simply Louise. She is full of life and hope.
Outside her window, Mrs. Mallard views the top of trees, a quiver with the new spring (Choplin, 786). This view, Rossenblum notes, symbolizes a rejuvenation and renewal of lost energy and hope seen in Louise’s change in emotions as she stays alone in her room. She is overwhelmed by the freedom she longed to have and the hope for a life in freedom.
There are, however, clouds that form in the west (Chopin, 787). Rossenblum notes that Louise Mallard's short period of freedom is marred by a storm too strong that she does not survive it. The clouds foreshadows the oncoming storms that shortens Mrs. Mallard's joy effectively bringing it to a tragic end.
Chopin narrates Louise and her sister entourage from her room. They descend the stairs to their shock and the reality that awaits them (Chopin, 787). The event of descending the stairs and finding unexpected grief symbolizes the drastic drop from high spirits and hope into the old world of harassment and prolonged despair. As she meets the reality of her husband in perfect health and her old identity of her status as Mrs, Mallard, the wife to the cruel man, she does not survive the shock and horror consequently succumbing to death. Her frail heart, not able to bear any more hurt, gives in.
Coming out of the room at her sister’s persistence, Louise emerges like a goddess of victory (Chopin 787). This royal emergence and the choice of the word goddess is an evidence of the power and authority the freed prisoner assumed and felt. She enjoyed the few moments she tested freedom so much that she could not bear going back to her old self.
Rossenblum points to the fact that ancient Greeks viewed gods and goddesses as powerful figures of humans with authority and might. As a powerful goddess with her own identity (Louise and not Mrs. Millard), she proudly drops the chains of slavery. She drops her marital name and notices the beauty in the environment she has longed failed to see. Little did she know that it would be the only time she would test freedom.
Allen Stein appreciates Chopin as a defender of the oppressed women in society and an open minded writer. He supports the independence in women and their rights to equal opportunities to explore their potential. According to Stein, the social framework is designed to constrain the women once they are married, amid courtship and whenever they intend to live singly independent lives. The social framework, therefore, direly needs reformation and restructuring for women to have equal chances at life. Allen however does not concur with death a solution to the woes and troubles of women at this age we live.
Rossenblum magnifies Chopin's idea of solace and relief oppression and marriage captivity in death. The death option is far much better than living an non-fulfilling life full of oppression and hopelessness. Her perspective of marriage, he notes, as platform for men to take complete control of women denying them a chance to make meaningful impact with their minds and talents was sadly true at her time.
In revealing and exposing the oppression of women in marriages, Chopin fought her war with a just cause. However, portraying death as solace and way of escape, she fails to give hope. Rossenblum exposes the symbolism in Chopin's story to give a comprehensive study and revelation of the entire picture of women's oppression in marriages. Moreover, with modification in the social framework, marriage can be based on a new structure that will not only allow the women their right and freedom to their desires but also the necessary support they need to achieve their dreams and desires as well as explore their potential to the fullest.
Kate Chopin. Women and Autonomy, edited by Stein Allen F. New York [u.a.: Lang, 2005. Print.
Rosenblum, Joseph. "The Story Of An Hour." Masterplots II: Short Story Series, Revised Edition (2004): 1-2. MagillOnLiterature Plus. Web. 3 Dec. 2014 print.